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⚠️ Please note that TEFAF Maastricht has been shortened from it usual duration, after private previews on March 7 & 8, the show will run from the 9th through Thursday 14th

The Suntory Museum holds a distinctive place in the vast cultural tapestry of Tokyo. It is recognized not only for its diverse collections but also for its dedication to preserving and showcasing art from various epochs. Established in the late twentieth century, the museum quickly became a pillar in Japan’s art community. Its history is interwoven with the Suntory Group’s commitment to cultural contribution and societal enrichment, which reflects in the museum’s wide-ranging exhibitions and events.

Beyond its distinguished Delftware collection, the museum features an array of art forms that span from traditional Japanese masterpieces to contemporary expressions from around the globe. This extensive repertoire includes sculptures, paintings, multimedia installations, and artifacts that mirror Japan’s evolving artistic landscape while emphasizing the global influences that have shaped it.

The Delftware collection is one of the treasures found within the museum. It serves as a testament to the museum’s commitment to curating global art. Delftware has made its mark in the world of ceramics due to its distinct blue and white designs and the craft’s rich history. The Suntory Museum’s acquisition of such pieces reflects an appreciation for this unique art form and its place in the larger global artistic narrative.

One notable piece in the collection is a figurine of a cat. This isn’t a mere portrayal of an animal but a symbol of the level of craftsmanship that defines Delftware. The figure stands as an embodiment of the tradition’s nuanced details and the intimate connection between artisans and their subjects.

Additionally, the collection includes a kendi. This traditional vessel, with its historical significance and purpose, highlights the range of Delftware pieces. It serves as a representation of the cultural exchanges that enriched the world of ceramics over the centuries.

The collection also boasts a variety of vases and plates. While their specific designs and imageries are diverse, they all resonate with the same theme of impeccable craftsmanship and rich history. Each piece, whether utilitarian or decorative, speaks to the times when they were crafted and the artisans’ dedication to their craft.

The Suntory Museum’s Delftware collection is more than an exhibit; it’s a narrative. It speaks of times past, of artists’ passions, and of a world where artistry transcended borders to find a home in distant lands. For those visiting Tokyo with an interest in understanding global art’s interwoven stories, the Suntory Museum’s Delftware collection offers a subtle yet profound glimpse into this captivating world.

The Ashmolean Museum at the University of Oxford was established in 1683, and is Britain’s first public museum and the world’s first university museum. The collection showcases the breadth of human achievement as well as the intricate links that bind various cultures together.

The museum was established after Elias Ashmole donated his collection to the University of Oxford. Ashmole initially acquired his collection from John Tradescant the Elder and his son, who travelled the world and collected artifacts through the ages. While initially housed next to the Bodleian Library, the burgeoning collection’s demand for space led to its relocation to the grand neo-classical edifice crafted by Charles Cockerell in 1845. The 2009 redevelopment added a touch of modernity, ensuring the Ashmolean remained both historically rich and contemporarily relevant.

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Among the museum’s myriad treasures, the European ceramics section holds a special allure, particularly its Delftware pieces. Crafted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, these items showcase the pinnacle of Dutch ceramic artistry, but with a twist that underscores the interconnectedness of cultures.

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Of particular note in the collection is a blue and white double gourd vase, decorated with intricate chinoiserie motifs. Chinoiserie, a European style inspired by Asian artistic traditions, became immensely popular during this period. The vase, with its sinuous curves and detailed decor, symbolizes the fusion of European craftsmanship and Eastern aesthetics. Similarly, a Delftware bottle in the collection, adorned with chinoiserie scenes, speaks of the allure the Far East held for European artisans. The myriad plates, with their diverse designs ranging from orangerie to chinoiserie themes, further highlight this artistic exchange.

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The Ashmolean is more than a guardian of artifacts; it is an active hub of learning and discovery. As part of Oxford University, it hosts regular lectures, research initiatives, and educational programs.

In summation, the Ashmolean Museum stands as more than a repository. It is a celebration of human creativity and the remarkable ways in which cultures, seemingly distinct, interweave and influence one another. The Delftware pieces, especially the chinoiserie-decorated double gourd vase and bottle, epitomize this intercultural dialogue. Through its collections and initiatives, the Ashmolean invites visitors to not just observe, but to engage in a timeless and borderless conversation of art and history.

The Gruuthusemuseum is located in Bruges, Belgium. The museum houses its collection in the medieval Gruuthuse, this used to be the house of Louis de Gruuthuse. Louis was an important Flemish man and Lord during the 15th century. Lord of Gruuthuse, Prince of Steenhuijs, bibliophile, soldier and nobleman are all titles connected to his name. 

In the 13th century, a wealthy family from Bruges likely won the right to tax gruit and built a building to store it. Gruit is a mixture of herbs used for beer, making it bitter and adding flavour. Nowadays hops is used and replaced gruit.  

Two centuries later, ancestors of Louis changed the building in to a luxury family home, the family also changed their name to Van Gruuthuse (From the Gruit house). The building didn’t stop changing. When Louis was the head of the house he added a wing that connects the house to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady).

The Gruuthuse is a museum nowadays and has a wide range of objects in its collection. Art from the 15th century up until the 19th century. The museum has both a collection of everyday tools and utensils and the interior of a wealthy family’s home as it was in the late Middle Ages. Ceramics, weapons, musical instruments, bobbin lace, objects made of gold and silver, and furniture are all on display.

Between all these objects a beautiful early 17th century Delft jug is to be found. The Jug is beautifully decorated with birds and flowers in blue and white and has a silver cover made in Bruges. On the cover there is a coat of arms of abbot Campmans and motto “Deo Duce” engraved, this means God is my leader.

A slightly similar jug was in the former Aronson collection, illustrated in Dutch Delftware, Queen Mary’s Splendor, n. 2, p. 8. This jug is attributed to De Porceleyne Schotel (The Porcelain Dish) Factory. These jugs were made between 1630 and 1650. 

In Dutch still life paintings from this period, jugs like these are often depicted. Jan Steen painted ‘Het oestereetstertje’ in c. 1658-60. On this painting a young lady eating oysters is depicted with in the background a blue and white jug, similar to the jug in the Gruuthusemuseum.

 

The Kröller-Müller Museum, nestled within the serene expanse of National Park De Hoge Veluwe in Otterlo, Gelderland, The Netherlands, is more than just a museum. It’s a testament to the passion and vision of Helene Kröller-Müller. Opening its doors in 1938, the museum rapidly ascended to national prominence, offering a glimpse into the profound aesthetic sensibilities of one of Europe’s pioneering female art collectors.

It was under the tutelage of art critic H.P. Bremmer that Helene Kröller-Müller’s fervor for art was kindled. This newfound passion saw her amass a collection that spanned the spectrum from 17th-century masterpieces to avant-garde works of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Notable among these are 91 paintings and 185 drawings by the celebrated Vincent van Gogh. Yet, her eclectic tastes didn’t stop there; her collection boasted works from luminaries such as Mondrian, Picasso, and Seurat. In addition, she harbored a particular affection for ceramics, with Greek pieces and Delftware – especially white variants and intricately designed plates – being prominent features.

Understanding the magnitude and significance of their collection, Helene and her husband Anton Kröller embarked on the ambitious project of constructing a museum. They commissioned the esteemed Belgian architect, Henry van de Velde, to craft a building that would befit the grandeur of their collection. Despite their enthusiasm, financial constraints momentarily hindered their dream. But their passion was undeterred. In an effort to share the fruits of their labor with the art-loving community, they showcased their collection in an exhibition in The Hague. As the main museum building was still a work in progress, a provisional home for the artworks was arranged in Otterlo. The vision for the van de Velde-designed museum building, however, was thwarted by the onset of the Second World War, adding a poignant chapter to its rich history.

As the Kröller-Müller Museum continues its illustrious journey, we wish to extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to Mr Benno Tempel in his new role as the director. We are confident that under his leadership, the museum will continue to inspire and captivate art enthusiasts.

 

The Museum of Fine Arts in Reims, France opened its doors in the city’s town hall in 1794. The foundation of the collection was donated in 1752 by Antoine Ferrand de Monthelon, the founder of the city’s school of drawing. Many other artworks in the museum were among those seized during the French Revolution in 1789. The museum’s first curator was Nicolas Bergeat, who guarded works of art annexed from the Catholic institutions in Reims.

 

Over the years the collection grew and the town hall of Reims could no longer house all of the artworks. In 1908 the city purchased the former Abbey of Saint-Denis to house a portion of the collection. The abbey was first constructed during the 9th century under the direction of the Archbishop of Reims. The building served many other purposes before it was transformed into a museum, such as the French Directory’s headquarters, barracks for Russian occupation troops in 1814 and 1815, and a grand seminary in 1822.

The Museum of Fine Arts has a vast collection of artworks that span five centuries of European and French art, from the Renaissance through the Art Deco, the Grand Siècle of the seventeenth century and Impressionism. There are over one hundred ceramic objects on display, including a considerable number of Delft earthenware. The wide variety of Delftware cannot be missed, from vases, dishes, plaques and jugs. 

 

One outstanding feature of the collection is a ‘Persian Blue’ Jug marked De Paauw (The Peacock) Factory. De Paauw (The Peacock) Factory is most renowned for its blue glazes. A beautiful example, already mentioned in an earlier newsletter, is a spice bowl with a blue glaze and white decoration. This unusual group of Delftware with blue grounds was inspired by the blue and yellow ground ceramics from Nevers, France. Between 1660-1680, faience makers in Nevers produced wares with either an opaque yellow or blue glaze, covered with delicate lace-like decorations. Of course, this is the reason these beautiful blue earthenware pieces are also called ‘Nevers bleu’.

Groot Constantia is a homestead and Wine Museum in Cape Town, South Africa that dates back to 1685. It was one of the first commercial wine farms in South Africa. Today, the house and museum chronicle the past to present including the legacy of slavery. There is a particular focus on the eighteenth to early nineteenth century period when affluent farmers tended the land. From 1778 to 1885, the Cloet family owned the farm.

The wine museum shows the historical wine cellars and exhibits wine storage and drinking vessels from antiquity to the twentieth century. The Cloetes utilized the cellars below the house as a place to store high-quality wine bottles, vegetables, and fruit. Slaves and later house staff occupied the rooms with windows as places to live and work.

The homestead offers a glimpse into the life of an effective Cape farmer from the eighteenth to the late nineteenth century with its exhibition of furniture, paintings, textiles, pottery, brass, and copper ware. The homestead is made up of many rooms. After entering the entrance hall you quickly reach the study room, where men congregated to socialize and smoke pipes. The furniture is Neo-Classical or Louis XVI style, and the items in the room range in period from the early eighteenth century to the early nineteenth century. The room contains writing desks, writing furniture and Chinese and Delft-made earthenware. 

The homestead also exhibits Dutch heritage in the kitchen, where a typical Frisian tall clock is displayed. This clock was made during the eighteenth and nineteenth century in Friesland. 

Edam is a small city North of Amsterdam, famous for the small round cheeses bearing the name of the city. The town was founded around a dam crossing the river E or IJe near the Zuiderzee (currently known as the IJsselmeer). Around 1230 the channel was dammed, and goods had to be transferred from vessel to vessel. The inhabitants of Edam levied a toll, which enabled Edam to grow economically. Edam acquired city rights in 1357 by Count Willem V. A new harbor was established, which connected it to other major Dutch cities as well as international trade.

Fishing, timber trade and shipbuilding became interesting and flourishing businesses for the coastal city of Edam. By the sixteenth century there were as many as 33 wharves in Edam, a very high number compared to the relative small size of the city. The local economy was further boosted by a market held three times a year. In fact, Edam was one of the more important towns of North Holland, vying with chambers of the VOC (Verenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) in Enkhuizen, Hoorn and Amsterdam. However, the shipbuilding industry declined at the end of the seventeenth century when Emperor Charles V built lock gates to protect the city from flooding. The gates caused the harbor to be bogged down, and it was eventually closed. The shipbuilding and timber trade then moved to Amsterdam and the Zaan region in the second half of the seventeenth century. With the reclaimed land in Edam, the city transformed itself into a thriving regional center for the cattle trade and its famous cheese. After the middle of the eighteenth century, the economy of Edam stagnated. This was reinforced by the construction of the Noord-Hollands Kanaal (1824), which meant that ships no longer passed through the city.

Robert Aronson officially opening the Edam cheese market on July 27, 2016
Robert Aronson officially opening the Edam cheese market on July 27, 2016

There are many treasures from the golden age of Edam, many of which are preserved and displayed in the Edam museum. The museum is one of the oldest institutions in North Holland, and it is housed in a beautiful late Gothic-style merchant’s house. The structure, built between 1540-1550, is the oldest brick-built house in Edam. In 1893, the Edam city council purchased the building and it subsequently underwent an extensive restoration overseen by Pierre Cuypers (original architect of the Rijksmuseum) and Victor de Stuers. The museum opened in 1895 and it continues to operate today. A second location is housed on the first floor of Edam’s old town hall, dating from 1737. The building was renovated in the seventeenth century and furnished with a luxurious new interior, which has largely been unchanged since. This space, including the historic Mayor’s Chamber, is the setting for regular short term exhibitions.

The floating cellar is a famous feature of Edam Museum. The cellar is a loose container that floats on the groundwater. Due to tidal movements of the sea, (the museum is located on Dam Square, the location of what used to be a (sea) lock) the Zuiderzee influences the groundwater level. Because the basement moves with the water, it never floods. Floating cellars are not unique; many are found in Edam and especially in Amsterdam. However, the floating cellar in Edam Museum is the only one in the Netherlands that is publicly accessible.

A significant part of the museum collection was acquired by Herman Beek, the so called ‘Artbaker’, as he was a baker and antique dealer in Edam. According to legend, he amassed his collection, among other things, by having his customers pay with antiques for the bread he sold. A great deal of his collection was either sold or donated to the Edam Museum by the Van Beek family.

The collection contains a wide range of objects related to the history of Edam and beyond, including a group of Delftware objects. One interesting piece is a Delft dish made in the second half of the eighteenth century, which the museum acquired from Aronson Antiquairs. The imagery on the dish is very much related to the significance of Edam as a ‘Cheese city.’ The dish is painted in the center with a cheesemonger wearing a large hat, standing behind his counter and slicing a large wheel of cheese with a large knife. Above his head are eight cheeses on a shelf suspending a scale, and a smaller shelf of two cheeses above four wooden barrels to his right. The front of the counter is inscribed “Maggiel Wiegers Visser”, and the rim with a border of floral lappets alternating with large demi-blossoms and foliate scrolls, the footrim of each pierced with a hole for suspension. The plate bears no mark, which was very common for special orders like the present dish.

According to archival material, Maggiel Wiegers Visser was born in 1768 in Woudsend, Friesland. Unlike his male family members, he wasn’t involved in eel trade, or eel trade related business, but he started a dairy trade, selling butter, milk and cheese in his shop in Woudsend. After his marriage in 1790, he continued his business in Grouw. The plate was probably ordered in Delft as a promotional or commemorative gift, by Maggiel himself or someone else.

There are four similar plates known: one in ‘Het Scheepvaart Museum’ in Sneek, one in ‘Het Openlucht Museum’, Arnhem, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford and one in a private collection in The Netherlands.

Edams Museum

 

The Freer Gallery of Art is located in Washington DC. This museum is a part of the Smithsonian Institution together with the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. 

The Gallery was founded by Charles Lang Freer, a railcar manufacturer and a self-taught art connoisseur. Freer had a large collection of Asian and American art, which he donated to the nation. He discussed this gift informally with President Theodore Roosevelt a year earlier. In addition to the art objects, the donation also included funding for a building, and for the study and acquisition of Eastern, Egyptian and Near Eastern visual arts.

Freer imposed a number of conditions on his donation. He believed that the museum should be easily accessible to scientists at all times. Freer also stipulated in the bequest that he would exercise full curatorial control over the collection until his death. The Smithsonian was initially hesitant about the requirements, but Roosevelt’s intervention allowed the project to go ahead. However, Freer died before the construction and establishment of the museum was completed.

In 1923, the Freer Gallery of Art was opened to the public. It was the first Smithsonian museum that was based on a bequest from a private collection.

Various objects are on display in the museum, including Chinese paintings and ceramics, Korean pottery, Japanese byōbu, Indian and Persian manuscripts, and Buddhist sculpture. The collection also features a number of Delft earthenware fragments, which show the history of Delftware. 

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is located in the beautiful city of Toronto. The institution is Canada’s largest museum and is home to thirteen million artworks. The museum opened in March 1914, and originally consisted of five separate museums: ROM of Archeology, ROM of Paleontology, ROM of Mineralogy, ROM of Zoology and ROM of Geology. In 1955 these five museums became one. Since these milestones, the museum has continued to expand; new exhibition spaces were built, a new library was added, and more research was done. On June 3, 2007, the museum opened a new building, the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal, which was a gift from Lee-Chin. The building, designed by Daniel Liebeskind, was inspired by the museum’s mineral collection.

The ROM collection consists of art that spans continents and time periods. It includes religious objects, textiles, costumes, and prehistoric mammals. In the European Decorative Arts Collection, there is a group of majolica from the northern Netherlands. One highlight is a beautiful thirteen inch charger with floral motifs.

Majolica Charger. Royal Ontario Museum. Circa 1635. Inv no. 931.10.9.

Dutch majolica is the forerunner of Delftware. In the late sixteenth century potters of Italian origin migrated from Antwerp to the Northern Netherlands due to religious and political turmoil (the Fall of Antwerp in 1585). These potters settled in cities such as Haarlem and Delft, bringing with them their knowledge and skills in making Italian- style tin-glazed earthenwares (maiolica). The early Netherlandish majolica production consisted mainly of dishes and porridge bowls covered on the front in an opaque white tin glaze, and on the reverse with a less costly transparent lead glaze. The decoration of these pieces in either European patterns or imitations of ‘kraak’ porcelain (the first type of Chinese export porcelain from the Wanli period [1573-1620] to be imported into the Netherlands), or a combination of both, was painted predominantly in blue, yellow, orange or ochre, green and manganese, colors derived from mineral oxides.

Majolica can be distinguished from Delftware not only by the clear glaze on the reverse, revealing the buff-colored body of the clay, but also by the three small spots of glaze damage on the front (prunt marks). These were created by the stacking of the pieces on top of one another in the kiln, separated by ceramic triangles that had to be broken away after the firing. In that process, the points where the triangles had rested would leave their mark: a small unglazed scar.

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is the oldest art museum in Texas and first opened its doors in 1924. The original building was designed by architect William Ward Watkin in the Greek Neoclassical style. In the years that followed, the museum expanded its collection and buildings. Today, there are three buildings that house the museum collection.

The collection grew with the addition of an important group of American and European oil paintings bequeathed by George M. Dickinson. Many other benefactors followed Dickinson’s example and donated artwork to the museum. By 1970, the museum had 12,000 objects in its collection. Today, the collection includes approximately 70,000 objects from very diverse mediums, including Italian Renaissance, French Impressionism, American art, post-war paintings and sculpture and American and European decorative arts.

De Paauw (The Peacock) factory. Dinner Plate with Royal Arms of England and Cipher for James II, 1698. Tin-glazed earthenware (delftware). 1 1/4 × 10 1/4 in. diameter (3.2 × 26 cm). The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg, B.59.88

The museum has a very special and rare Delftware object in its collection, a dinner plate with the Royal Arms of England and Cipher for James II made in 1698 and marked for De Paauw (The Peacock) factory. De Paauw (The Peacock) factory was established in 1651. The factory building was painted with the founding year and a beautiful blue and black peacock on its facade. The symbol became a trademark for the factory and was repeatedly used as a decorative motif on objects. When the factory first opened, it operated with only one oven. During the eighteenth century another oven was added. This plate was made under Petronella van Dijssel whom operated the factory from 1680 onwards. Dated Delftware objects are rare, which makes this plate even more interesting. 

The British Museum in London opened its doors in 1759. The founding represents a milestone as it was the first national public museum in the world. Each year the museum welcomes over six million visitors from all over the world.

The collection was first housed in the Montagu House, which was a seventeenth century mansion built by P. Puget. By 1823, the collection had outgrown its original building and required a larger headquarters. Sir Robert Smirke designed a new neoclassical museum building, which remains in use today. In 1857, Smirke’s brother, Sydney Smirke, designed the Reading Room. This room is inspired by the domed Pantheon in Rome. Karl Marx among many others came to visit this marvelous Reading Dome.

The British Museum is home is a treasure trove of special objects, from paintings, to books, and even mummies. The Rosetta Stone is one of the many highlights of the collection. The museum also has a special collection of Delftware that includes figures, vases, jugs and many plates including a special series painted by Sir James Thornhill, an English painter of decorative wall and ceiling paintings, portraits and scenes from history and mythology. His works include the inside of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral and the “Painted Hall” at the Royal Hospital, Greenwich. In 1711 he was in Delft and painted a series of twelve plates with the signs of the zodiac. These plates were made by De Grieksche A (The Greek A) factory under Johanna van der Heul, the widow of Pieter Adriaensz. Kocx.

The Saint Louis Art Museum is located in Forest Park in St. Louis, Missouri. The museum was founded in 1879 as the Saint Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts. The founder aspired for the institution to not only collect and showcase fine art, but to meet educational goals as well. The school educated artists and craftspeople, and hands-on studio work was offered in addition to art history classes. What began as a collection of assorted plaster casts, electrotype reproductions, and other examples of good design in various media rapidly gave way to a great and varied collection of original works of art spanning five millennia and six continents.

antique delftware Aronson plateThe wide range of arts in the museum collection goes back to antiquity and also represents the present. The collection includes modern art by European Masters as Gauguin and Picasso as well as twentieth-century German paintings. The museum collection goes beyond European art; it also contains finely handwoven Turkish Rugs and an Egyptian Mummy. 

Although the Saint Louis Art Museum has only a small collection of Delftware, there is a very impressive object in the group: a massive blue and white chinoiserie dish. The dish is painted with two fierce spotted leopards and two other exotic beasts being observed by a Chinese dignitary and two attendants. One of the attendants supports a flag before a garden fence on the left, and five figures on the right, one beneath a parasol and the others holding or brandishing various implements. They all stand before a pavilion, the foreground with leafy plants, and beyond the activity a tree amidst shrubbery, rocks and ‘clouds.’ The foot rim is pierced with two holes for suspension in the glaze vat. 

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